Legislators meet in Hattiesburg to discuss legislative session - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Legislators meet in Hattiesburg to discuss 2012 legislative session

Legislators discuss issues of 2012 legislative session Legislators discuss issues of 2012 legislative session

Hot-button political topics were on the breakfast menu at the second session of the Area Development Partnership's Pastries and Politics meeting Monday morning at the Trent Lott Center on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi.

Senator Joey Fillingane, Representative Hank Lott, Senator John Polk and Representative Percy Watson gave the latest details on issues dominating the 2012 legislative session.

"We have an extra 30 days this year because it is the first year of the new term," said Senator Joey Fillingane, District 41.

In the 125-day session, Senator Fillingane, R-Sumrall, says lawmakers are facing two big issues -  redistricting and appropriations.

"Redistricting. We will have an opportunity this year to redraw our lines for all the state House and state Senate districts. We were unable to do that last year, but now with Republican control of both the House and Senate, I  feel much more confident that we will be able to accomplish that this year," said Fillingane.

Representative Percy Watson has a strong opinion on tackling redistricting.

"It's a nightmare," said Watson.

Watson says in the past race and region made redistricting a contentious task. Now, another aspect is divisive. 

"Party politics. Because you can get an advantage or disadvantage as a result of reapportionment," said Watson.

Senator Fillingane says even with the state taking in more revenue than projected cuts are likely.

"We are about $460 million short," said Watson.

"Anytime you are cutting, especially given the economic situation we all find ourselves in where money is already tight, and then you have to cut even more than that is always difficult. The positive or silver lining in all that is that it doesn't appear we are going to have to cut as much," said Fillingane.  

Another prominent aspect of the 2012 legislative session is the shift to the Republican majority. Both parties say they have settle into the change.

"We are aware, as Democrats, that the Republicans win most of the time. They don't win all of the time. There are many instances were on very major key legislation we are successful," said Watson.

"It's a little easier to work within the system as a Republican now that the Republicans control the Governor's office, the Senate and the House, but it still doesn't mean that everything is going to flow right through just the way you might want it to," said Fillingane.

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